Movie Review: IMMORTALS is all flash and no substance
Tarsem Singh’s strength has always been his amazing visuals. They get burned in your eyes and stick with you long after viewing. When handled well, the visuals enhance the story and take it an entirely different level – like in his film THE FALL. There the dreariness of the real world was made all the more depressing with the juxtaposition of the brightly colored and lavish story world. That skillful balance doesn’t exist in IMMORTALS since the story is no where near as strong as THE FALL.
The story of Theseus isn’t exactly the most well known of the ancient Greek tales, so my beef isn’t with the liberties they took there. It’s with the flat characters that are never fully fleshed out. While Theseus is painted as a noble, moral hero, we never learn more about any of the other characters that make you truly care about them. Freida Pinto’s Oracle could have been anyone, with no discernable character traits – no reason to make the audience feel like their love is genuine and worthwhile. The same could be said for all of the relationships and rivalries in the film, but none moreso than the rivalry between Theseus and Lysander that feels like it was supposed to be much bigger motivation than it was. Lysander is the saddest character of them all – tossed out of the honorable army over being defeated by Theseus in a street fight, he vows vengeance and joins Hyperion’s side. However, this comes at quite a high cost of humilitation, mutilation, and emasculation that never feels worth it for the slight that was handed him in return. And at the end of the film during the climactic tunnel fight, it’s just laughable at how quickly and miniscule his downfall comes. That can’t even be considered a spoiler given that it was so predictable and obvious that he wouldn’t overtake the hero in the end; he’s just too pathetic of a villain to be even be considered at that level.
Theseus has the gods on his side, but the Gods are dreadfully boring as well. While some are easily identifiable given their symbols and garb, they made no effort to distinguish them from one another. During a crucial fight scene that only two Gods partake in, it was nigh impossible to tell which God had come down to Earth and which were still on Olympus. Zeus and Athena were the only ones lucky enough to be given any sort of personality. This largely falls on the script, but the casting of some hunky flat actors certainly didn’t help set them apart.
However, even with all these detractors, I’d still recommend it to theater-goers. The 3D is among the best I’ve seen, and definitely the best of those converted after filming in 2D. The fight scenes are incredibly dramatic and eye-catching, particularly the way that Tarsem plays with the differences in speed and time for the humans and Gods. The fight scenes are really the reason to see the movie, and it just wouldn’t be the same to watch it at home as compared to the big screen. And while that may not sound like a good enough reason to shell out your hard earned dough, it felt like roughly the last third of the film was all elaborate, detailed, graphic fight scenes that had me holding my breath.
Final Grade: C+
Recommendation: 3D Matinee or not at all